Vaughn Correctional inmate's lawsuit: Authorities harmed prisoners in uprising
Tactical responders who stormed a Delaware prison to end a deadly inmate uprising injured nearly every prisoner in the building, according to an inmate's federal lawsuit.
Donald Parkell also claims in the lawsuit that no more than 10 inmates coordinated and carried out the uprising at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center earlier this month. Correctional officer Steven Floyd, one of four Department of Correction staffers taken hostage by prisoners, was killed in the unrest.
DOC officials have refused to confirm or deny details outlined in Parkell's lawsuit, including that the building where the uprising took place is not equipped with video-surveillance cameras. They say all of the approximately 120 inmates in Building C at the time are considered suspects.
"We cannot comment on ongoing or pending litigation," DOC spokeswoman Jayme Gravell said in an email Thursday.
Some of the details in Parkell's complaint nevertheless coincide with accounts given by state authorities, including that inmates barricaded entrances with water-filled footlockers and some inmates banded together to protect a female counselor who was rescued.
Parkell claims that he and two other inmates — Michael Carello and Tyreek Downing — protected the counselor from other prisoners. Carello's mother, Matilda Carello, said her son's account matches Parkell's.
Matilda Carello also said that, in a phone call Thursday, Downing discounted claims that Floyd had warned other prison staffers not to enter the area because inmates had set up a trap. Instead, Downing told Carello that Floyd simply yelled repeatedly for help and nobody came to his rescue.
Parkell said in his lawsuit that the DOC hostages had their heads covered with cloth bags or hoods, and that their captors also wore hoods or other disguises to hide their identities.
He also said fires set by the inmates triggered a sprinkler system, which they used, along with showers, to fill the footlockers with water. Inmates who did not participate in the uprising banded together to cook food, which they shared while the attackers ate alone, according to Parkell.
Parkell's complaint, filed Tuesday against the prison warden and other staffers, is one of several he has filed against state prison officials over the years, including a pending lawsuit in which he has asserted religious liberty and excessive force claims.
Prison officials informed a federal judge last week that settlement talks in that case are on hold because of the uprising.
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